Environmental Sustainability in Everyday Landscaping

Environmental sustainability has been on the lips of every landscaping professional worth his salt over the past few years, and with good reason. Green landscaping is now a highly profitable as well as a quite marketable way to do business. By keeping lawns clean, companies are not only beautifying homes, but they are also helping Mother Nature and bringing light to new landscaping practices that are making their way into the mainstream of the industry.

What is sustainability?

“Sustainability” is defined as the ability to keep up a certain behavior for an indefinite period of time. Understanding sustainability is central to understanding environmental sustainability, which can be defined through a number of factors. However, environmental sustainability can be generally defined in business as the maintenance of the practices and other factors that help the environment over the long term.

Experts have attempted to place quantitative values on the abstraction of sustainability and “indefinite improvement.” One of the more accepted definitions comes from Herman Daly, one of the founders of modern ecological sustainability. His definition is also applicable to business. He proposed the following definition in 1990.

Renewable resources can only be defined as sustainable if the rate of regeneration is above the rate of harvest. This is known as “sustainable yield.”

Sustainable waste disposal is possible if the ability of the environment to assimilate waste from projects is greater than the pollution that is actually generated. Nonrenewable resources are sustainable only if their depletion coincides with a similar level of development of substitutes that are renewable for that particular resource. Although this definition is widely accepted, many experts think that it has a weakness. Even in its most expanded state, the Daly definition of environmental sustainability does not consider the quality of life that can be supported by a sustainable system. The implication here is that the quality of life should be high, because no one wants to live in a world that is technically defined as sustainable yet still has too much pollution for civil society.

The Three Pillars of Sustainability

In order to address this added dimension of life quality, the Three Pillars of Sustainability have been added to the traditional definition in many circles. These three pillars include a high level of:

Social Fulfillment

Economic Well-being

Healthy Environment

In terms of the landscaping industry and sustainable landscaping companies, these three pillars are very important. A successful green landscaping company will deal with each of these pillars. The reasons that people landscape their property include fulfilling themselves socially, showing a level of economic well-being, and keeping the surrounding environment as healthy and neat as possible (because eco-friendly landscaping companies are naturally committed to landscape design that benefits the environment).

Top Environmental Sustainability Issues

Before digging into the sustainable landscaping industry in particular,
we must understand the most pressing environmental sustainability issues in general.

Carbon Dioxide

CO2 or Carbon Dioxide is a natural greenhouse gas; it commonly comes from the air that humans exhale.

Of the natural gases—methane, water vapor, ozone, nitrous oxide and halocarbons, carbon dioxide represents 82% of all greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere as a consequence of human activity. That’s a lot of scientific names to take in, but bottom-line: carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas mixed in the air that we ingest.

In its solid state, carbon dioxide is what people commonly call dry ice. Dry ice is usually used to make volcano science projects seem like it’s smoking. It’s also used for stage plays to replicate fog. It’s untouchable at -78.5°, if skin makes contact with it, the skin can severely burn. The difference between ice and dry ice is that when dry ice is exposed to air, it immediately sublimes from solid to gas; compared to normal ice which turns to liquid first before evaporating.

How We Are Wasting Water Everyday

200 gallons—that’s how much water on average Americans use per day.

30% of this water is used outdoors. 60 gallons of water is used outside by a single person, every single day, multiply that by millions of people and you get an alarming estimated amount of water seeped into the ground at 9 billion gallons! In Minnesota and other parts of the country, many residents even over-water their lawns, and end up watering sidewalks and pavements--all this while some states are experiencing drought.

According to a NASA study, lawns in the United States, when clumped together, would take as much space as New York (the state, not the city!) totaling to about fifty thousand square miles of grass (yes, 50,000 square miles)! Picture how much water it takes to soak a whole state every single day, we could dry out the Hudson in a few years! Now wouldn’t it be better if we could allot that water being used for other things like for growing crops and fruits, or for drinking instead. That’s what we all want to do: keep water waste for lawns at a minimum so we can use the water for more pressing needs.

The Environment and You

Are we in an abusive relationship where we are the abusers and don’t even know it?

Our connection to earth was a million years in the making starting from particles in the universe, but now that we’re coexisting together is there a responsibility when we talk about the environment and you?

Human beings in the early days believed that the Earth will provide everything for sustenance and survival of all living species, not only humans.

And it did.

It still does.

However, due to the increasing population of humans in the planet, we are disrupting the Earth’s balance: using resources at a rate higher than the Earth is giving.

Plastic Sustainability

Plas-take note!

The grass we make is synthetic, it’s plastic! We’re all well aware of the irony; yeah, we know, we’re parading as eco-friendly, yet we’re using plastic—one of the world’s top polluters--as base material for our product.

But hear us out!

Since the discovery of plastic around 75 years ago, we have relied on it significantly in our daily lives. From household products to spaceships, we depend on plastic because it is practical, durable, versatile, and not to mention, inexpensive. Compared to wood, metal or glass, plastic has been consumed more as a material for construction worldwide. Plastic is very light and may therefore be transported for a relatively low price matched with other materials for packaging, construction and medical use. It’s also robust under most environments and it is bio-inert--meaning it could come into contact with food without risk of contamination. It’s moldable into different shapes, can be recycled, and is cost-effective for a multitude of uses.

However, due to the increasing population of humans in the planet, we are disrupting the Earth’s balance: using resources at a rate higher than the Earth is giving.

What is a Circular Economy?

A sustainability hot topic, the circular economy refers to minimizing waste and stretching resources.

Despite having mountains, volcanoes, natural wonders and a seemingly endless supply of water, the planet we live in has limited resources and capabilities to support every living thing that lives in it. In the past 50 years, human demand for natural resources have doubled

The Global Footprint finds that “Humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we only have one. Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.”